I never knew love at first sight was real until the day my eyes first settled on this squirming, squealing, slimy, red-faced infant named Eliot McKenna…and for a guy who for many years never wanted anything to do with kids, that is saying a lot! She came into this world in a flash – three weeks early and after a blinding-fast 5 hour labor and delivery – and she hasn’t slowed down since that day, July 14, 2004.
Since you are reading this blog, by now you probably know our oldest daughter quite well. And by now you probably know that Eliot, aka Little Miss Sunshine, aka quint big sis, aka the little spark plug has a little bit of sass and a whole lotta spirit inside of her and that would be putting it lightly! She has been a fireball from the day she was born and these last 7+ years have done little to temper the flame that burns inside of her! Eliot loves to have fun, she loves to be the center of attention, she loves to be a total nut, and she sometimes loves to put on a little drama to get even more of that attention she adores so much!
In many ways, raising Eliot has been an incredible challenge – channeling all of her energy and attitude into something positive, slowing her down long enough to get her to eat a good meal or get a good night’s sleep or give us a dang hug every once in awhile has at times been more than we believed we could handle. No kidding about this – there were times before the quints were born that Casey and I were pulling our hair out because Eliot’s demands were driving us to do so…haha – little did we know!! But truth be told, in many ways, raising Eliot has been rather, dare I say, easy…? She is a smart girl and is often very eager to please which means keeping her out of trouble has been much easier for us than it likely will be for Lila…or Ryan…or Britton. She has done great in school, is super social so making friends is never an issue, and is generally a happy-go-lucky girl with a ready-for-life attitude that can be extremely infectious at times!
Without question, one of our first and most perplexing concerns when we learned that the quints were about to invade our little world was how Eliot would be impacted by the dramatic changes that were coming to her. How would we have time to commit to her like we had before? Would she get overshadowed by all the attention the quints were sure to get? Big sisters and brothers always have trouble with just one new sibling, how could she be expected to welcome 5 of them into her life?
We had our moments, no doubt about it, where our fears were realized. “Daddy, why did God have to give us 5 babies? Why didn’t he give us just one?” I remember Eliot asking me that question as I was tucking her into bed without story time one night, the quints having exhausted the energy I usually reserved to read to her before we turned out the lights. If you’ve been a parent long enough, you’ve been asked one of these types of questions from your little ones and you know the pain, guilt, frustration, and sadness that results from having to answer as best you can. “I don’t know sweetheart. God chooses different challenges for different people and this is ours. It doesn’t change his love for us or our love for you. It will all work out, I promise.” Nothing in this world is more difficult than saying those words to your sweet little one!!
But ask her about that today…about having 5 babies instead of one…I think the question would confuse her. God has resoundingly answered our prayers and helped us find ways to keep Eliot from getting lost in the shuffle of the quint craziness – she is 100% hooked on being an awesome big sister! These days the questions are more like this: “Daddy, can we wrestle with the babies tonight?” and “Mama, can I have spa day with the babies in my room?” And she absolutely can’t wait for the kids to get fully potty-trained so she can have sleep overs in her room with them on the weekends! And she really made us proud when she went through her stuff and found special gifts for each of the 5 to give to them for their birthday…sweetest thing ever! Yeah, I’d say she’s over it, the 5 at a time thing, and actually I think it is safe to say she’s actually loving it!
Life with Eliot has never been dull and as the teenage years slowly creep up on us, the challenges we have faced with her promise to be mere training exercises for what is to come! Whether we like it or not, our baby girl has started to make the transition to young lady-hood which has been both exciting and frightening at the same time! But Eliot has been given a great life and we have been given great times in our life because of that and somehow, some way I think things will work out just fine…God willing!!! :)